Three very different women from former Yugoslavia try to get by in Zurich in Das Fräulein (Fraulein) from Swiss director of Yugoslav-origins Andrea Stacka. Featuring outstanding performances from the protagonists and a keen eye for detail, the film
continues to expand the cinematic exploration of the heritage of the Balkan Wars from a female point of view after Berlinale-winner Grbavica (which also starred Mirjana Karanovic). Being less overly melodramatic and more cinematic in its language than Grbavica but lacking the prestige of a Golden Bear (though it did win the Golden Leopard in Locarno), Das Fräulein should stand about an equal chance of finding niche distribution in arthouses across the continent. In the pre-title sequence, Balkan folk music plays, as a hand is seen pruning branches from a bare tree. The message is clear: the branches can be removed to stimulate growth and fruition in the future, but the roots stay where they are. Ruza (Karanovic) runs a canteen in Zurich and leads the classical example of an orderly ut lonely life — without heartbreak but also without passion. She is originally from Belgrade but arrived in Switzerland before the Balkan Wars. In her kitchen works the elderly Mila (Ljubica Jovic), who is from the Croatian coast and is married and has her children and husband in Zurich. She saves all her money for a house they are constructing back home. Into their lives comes the force of nature Ana (Marija Skaricic), a young girl who lived through the siege of Sarajevo and who seems to want to live each moment as if it were here last.